Meat Glue


Uh…I swear I have not lost my mind. There exist such a thing. An enzyme called transglutaminase acts as a bonding agent for different types of proteins. It is not a new discovery. It’s mostly used in industrial applications like improving the binding of sausages or restructured steaks but has recently found usage in restaurants that would like to create more consistent portion sizes. In upscale restaurants, it may be used to create something unusual like this tuna-scallop example from my Harold Mc Gee seminar last year.


I do not really see an application in the home kitchen. But a girl has to try and satisfy her curiosity , right?  I was able to get an Ajinomoto representative  to send me a sample of Activa -its brand name- a couple of months ago since I couldn’t find it anywhere( It has since become available at Lepicerie).


I finally found the opportunity to play with this ingredient last weekend as the “Hungry” Hubby was making kebabs again and I had him set aside 4 pieces of tenderloin for me. Activa is in powder form. All you have to do is to sprinkle it liberally at the point where you want to fuse the meat , press it firmly and refrigerate overnight.


We salted the chunks of meat before throwing it on the grill. That way , we could make sure that seasoning did not affect the bonds that formed.


I know I did not do a very professional job glueing the pieces together, but at least the chunks held.

The small piece that broke off in the picture was a natural separation of the meat.


There was no weird after-taste that came about from the use of Activa. The meat remained succulent, retained it’s texture and beefy taste.

The Ajinomoto rep told me that once the packet is opened , it is important to seal and freeze the remaining powder as it loses its effectivity very quickly once exposed to air. That is another reason I think this will be my first and last experimentation with transglutaminase.


18 thoughts on “Meat Glue

  1. Goodness, when you say 'test kitchen' you are not kidding. I have never even dreamt of meat glue. You learn something knew every day.

  2. OK, I was with you, nodding along, saying, "yes, of course there's meat glue: they use it to stick violins together, they used it to repair my violin's face when it was broken" … and then … and then I saw what you were talking about, and am just … well, way freaked out.

    But I'm imagining what this will do for roulades – I'm imagining all manner of meat, pounded flat, rolled up and roasted, without even needing butcher's twine. Nice!

  3. Oh yes, scary scary stuff;) I remember discovering it on a manufacturer's website and reading incredulously… being a naïve guy not imagining people would stick offcuts together to make "steaks"…

  4. this is too cool, but kinda crazy. I can't imagine ever using it myself, but I suppose there might be a purposeful application one day. Thanks for the info and it's good to know that it doesn't flavor the meat at all.
    You mentioned that it's from Ajinomoto, they make the MSG product. Is this glue MSG based?
    I would think not because you said that it did not flavor the meat. Interesting….

  5. I think Wylie Dufresne has an application for it where they take chicken thighs and chicken breasts, glue them together, and sous vide them in the shape of a ball.

    Roulades would be interesting. you could bind strips of chicken and pork together, fill it, and make striped roulades.

  6. re: transglutaminase

    Monosodium glutamate..

    a friend with MSG problems also has problems with hydrolyzed soy protein…

    Industrial applications
    Industrial transglutaminase is produced by Streptomyces mobaraensis fermentation in commercial quantities and is used in a variety of processes, including the production of processed meat and fish products. It can be used as a binding agent to improve the texture of protein-rich foods such as surimi or ham.[9]

    Transglutaminase can be used in these applications:[citation needed]

    Binding small chunks of meats into a big one ("portion control"), such as in sausages, hot dogs, restructured steaks
    Improving the texture of low-grade meat such as so-called "PSE meat" (pale, soft, and exudative meat, whose characteristics are attributed to stress and a rapid postmortem pH decline)
    Making milk and yogurt creamier
    Making noodles firmer
    Besides these mainstream uses, transglutaminase has been used to create some unusual foods. British chef Heston Blumenthal is credited with the introduction of "meat glue" into modern cooking. Wylie Dufresne, chef of New York's avant-garde restaurant wd~50, was introduced to transglutaminase by Blumenthal, and invented a "pasta" made by over 95% shrimps thanks to transglutaminase.[10]

    [edit] See also

  7. OoooKkkkk Veron . . . meat glue. This one sure made me smile when I saw the title! After the read, I have something to look out for. Very interesting indeed. The tuna/scallop looks intriguing to say the least.

  8. Things are getting exciting in the test kitchen! I am enjoying your foray into all these high-fangled ingredients 🙂 It's like Star Trek but for the kitchen 🙂 Go Veron!

  9. I personaly think this is great stuff. I get to use it everyday at work. We use it to “glue” two tenderloins together, tail to tail. it will yield a few more portions, not losing profits to food cost. We also use for wrapping pork tenderloins in bacon. works great

  10. p.s. don’t get it in your lungs, it will glue pretty much any raw protien, including your lungs. I wonder if you can use it to seal a cut finger?? hhhmmmm will get back to you on that one

  11. Folks, transglutaminase is NOT MSG. It doesn’t even contain glutamine, the name indicates that it’s an enzyme that acts on glutamine. So don’t worry about that aspect.

    I want to get some so I can use it in burgers that I make by coarsely grinding lean chuck steak. Very tasty, but the fall apart on the grill.

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